I've been thinking a lot about Christmas lately (after all, it will be here in 78 days!).
When I was younger, Christmas was a huge deal. My mother loved the holidays. She loved decorating the house...in fact, almost every room had decorations somewhere. She loved to give gifts. She would start months ahead, shopping for bargains...and hide them away until it was time (more than once she discovered hidden gifts long after the holiday). She would have some little something tucked away for unexpected visitors. She loved cooking her traditional Christmas cakes and pies. On Christmas Eve, she surrounded herself with her family for our seafood gumbo dinner and then we all gathered around the huge decorated tree with mountains of gifts that we all exchanged.
After I moved away, it seemed the older I got, the more I lost the Christmas spirit...at least until I would drive the 150 miles to her house. When I opened the door, the sights and smells of the season would assault my senses and I would be transformed into the child that I once was...anxious to poke around the tree to see if I could find any gifts with my name on them...and to taste a slice of my mom's squash pie. When it got dark, I would turn off the lights in the living room and watch the colored lights twinkling on the tree, while listening to a scratchy Bing Crosby LP singing White Christmas. It was during those times that I realized that Christmas for me meant coming home...to family and traditions.
Those days are long gone. My mom has been gone six years now. Even before she died, she didn't have the energy to "do" Christmas like she always had, so we had started having our family celebration at other places...but it just never was the same again.
Now I am the mother and the grandmother. What I've been thinking about is the traditions that I want my children and grandchildren to remember when I am gone. I want to create special memories with them that will carry through to their families...and that they will remember as a wonderful time to just enjoy being a kid...no matter how old they are.
I also want them to learn the joy of giving back...to know that it is indeed more blessed to give than to receive. I think that might be one of the greatest gifts that I can give them.